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VERSES 

MARY WRIGHT PLUMMER 



NY PUBLIC LIBRARY THE BRANCH LIBRARIES 



Ill 



3 3333 05967 6458 






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THE 

JESSIE SIBLEY HEQUEMBOURG 
MEMORIAL COLLECTION 

LIBRARIAN, CENTRAL CHILDREN'S ROOM 
THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY 

1913-1918 







VERSES 



BY 

MARY WRIGHT PLUMMER 



NEW 

PRIVATELY PRINTED 
I 916 



COPYRIGHT 1916 BY 
FRANCES PLUMMER ANDERSON 



THE NEW YORK 

PUBLIC LIBRARY 



ASTOR LENOX AMD 

TILDEII FOUNDATIONS 

O | 



TN 1896 an edition of three hundred copies of 
Miss Plummer's "Verses" was printed, mainly for 
private distribution. The little book has long been out 
of print; and this new edition is issued in response to re- 
quests made since the author' s death in September, 1916. 
The earlier volume contained fifteen poems. These 
are reprinted here, with four which were written later. 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

"THE \Yl.N D-SVVKl'T MULTITUDE IN THE INFERNO*' . 7 

IKRKVOC-AHLE ....... 9 

THE DIVINE RIGHT OF KINGS . . . . .10 

"A MI ENOCH \\ALKED WITH GOD" . . . 11 

MY OWN . . .... 13 

LIFE 15 

Musi. ......... 16 

OLD AGE 17 

PRAYERS FOR THE LIVING ...... 18 

THE Two NATURES 19 

NATURE 21 

DISILLUSION -- MORNING, EVENING ... 22 

INHERITANCE ........ 24 

THE BIRTHDAY IN HEAVEN ..... 25 

THE DEATH OF CESAR CICERO'S SOLILOQUY . . 27 

THE CHOSEN PEOPLE ...... 28 

THE CONQUEST OF THE AIR . . . . .29 

LOST CHILDREN ....... 30 

REQUIEM ........ 32 



"THE \V1XD-S\\T.PT MULTITUDE 
IN THE INFERNO" 

EVER we drift, drift. 
Swept by a wind we resist not, 
Whirling and turning swift; 
Onward we drift, drift, 
Blown through the cloud and the rift, 
Whither we know not and list not. 

Hark to the curses that tear 

Their way through the rush of the air ! 

Love that was uncontrolled, 

Killed by the ceaseless cold, 

Holds like a weight in its arms the price of the heaven it sold, 

Daring its voice to lift, 

Cursing the fatal gift, 

Winding in closer folds as onward we circle swift. 

Ages and ages pa-t. 
Passion-enthralled at last. 



Lovers were drawn and held and borne by this bitter blast; 

Yet and for ages unnumbered the strong 

Pitiless current shall bear them along, 

Driving with senseless force 

All that resist or resist not, 

Holding its changeless course 

Whither they know not and list not. 

Aching or sting of pain, 

These we have begged in vain, 

Only to dull the thoughts keen-edged that cut the brain. 

Fools to beg of a mindless wind ! 

Fools to hope that a sin once sinned 

May ever be cast behind, - 

Forgot in our endless race, 

When at every turn we see it lined 

In the look of a pallid face, 

As we whirl and cling and eddy and drift, 

Through cloud and rift, 

Swift, more swift 

Whither to know it avails not: 

Blown by a tempest that fails not, 

Ever we drift, drift. 

1882 



8 



IRREVOCABLE 

WHAT thou hast done thou hast done: for the 
heavenly horses are swift; 
Think not their flight to o'ertake they stand at the 

throne even now. 
Ere thou canst compass the thought, the immortals in 

just hands shall lift, 

Poise, and weigh surely thy deed, and its weight shall be 
laid on thy brow; 

For what thou hast done thou hast done. 

What thou hast not done remains; and the heavenly 

horses are kind: 
Till thou hast pondered thy choice they will patiently 

wait at thy door. 
Do a brave deed, and behold ! they are farther away 

than the wind; 
Returning, they bring thee a crown to shine on thy brow 

evermore; 

For what thou hast done thou hast done. 

1882 



THE DIVINE RIGHT OF KINGS 

THE right divine ! What king that hath it not? 
The right to look through all his realm and see 
What fever courses in the people's veins, 
And lay thereon the balm of kingly hands; 
To turn aside the treasonable blade, 
And make a friend of him who carries it; 
To bind up public wounds; to put away 
The screens wherewith men hide accusing truth, 
And speak grave words when these befit the time; 
To sow the land so full of happiness, 
Of peace and justice, love and courtesy, 
That ships bound seaward unto fabled shores 
Shall never tempt his people otherwhere. 
Such right divine as this hath every king. 

The Atlantic Monthly 
May, 1882 



10 



"AND ENOCH WALKED WITH GOD" 

OTHOU who in time's morning walked with God, 
Nor heeded that the world paths crossed thine 

own, 
Who, listening to the music shed abroad 

By that one Voice, heard not the other's tone 
Mocking at him who walked, or seemed to walk, 
alone, 

Tell us, who long to know, what converse sweet 
Fell from your lips ? what troubled questions lay 

Answered and clear, ere thou couldst frame them meet, 
In that bright light of Truth, the perfect day, 
Where vexed problems smooth and solve themselves 
away? 

Didst know what field-flowers fluttered 'neath the hem 
Of thy long garment, or what birds of song 

Circled around thee, or what light wind came 
Lifting thy locks the while ye walked along, 
Seen and unseen, the marveling world among? 



1 1 



Vain questioning! for answer as thou mightst, 
Our ears are holden that we cannot hear; 

The soul that walks with God upon the heights 
Hath secrets voiceless to the alien ear. 
To him that is of God the things of God are clear. 



Unity 
1883 



12 



MY OWN 

B!\O\YX lu-ads and gold around my knee 
Dispute in eager play; 
Sweet, childish voices in my ear 

Are sounding all the day; 
Yet sometimes in a sudden hush 

I seem to hear a tone 
Such as my little boy's had heen. 
If I had kept my own. 

And ofttimes when they come to me 

As evening hours grow long, 
And beg me, winningly, to give 

A story or a song, 
I see a pair of star-bright eyes 

Among the others shine - 
The eyes of him who ne'er hath heard 

Story or song of mine. 

At night, I go my round and pause 

Each white-draped cot beside, 
And note how flushed is this one's cheek, 

How that one's curls lie wide; 



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And to a corner tenantless 

My swift thoughts go apace 
That would have been, if he had lived, 

My other darling's place. 

The years go fast; my children soon 

Within the world of men 
Will find their work, and venture forth 

Not to return again; 
But there is one who cannot go, 

I shall not be alone, - 
The little one who did not live 

Will always be my own. 

The Century Magazine 
March, 1882 



14 



LIFE 

LFE, we, thy children, cling about thy knees 
And pray for largess; some are babes that turn 
Sweet faces, sure of answer, yet to learn 

That suns may shine and they be left to freeze; 
And some cast fiercely at thee words that burn, 

Or all thy steps with bitter 'plainings tease; 

And some, grown mute from many unheard pleas, 
Go from thee, looking back with eyes that yearn. 

\Yhat charm is in unmotherly caprice 

That, rather than be led to endless peace, 
We court, on bended knee, thy constant frown - 
Ay, even invite the smiting of thy hand, 
So we stay with thee? Shall we understand 
When thou hast loosed our fingers from thy gown? 

Magazine of Poetry 
1889 



15 



MUSIC 

WHEN in the shadow of the twilight room 
We sit together, opening each to each 
Our stores of hope, our depths of unbelief, 
And comfort comes with speech, until the soul 
Lays warning finger upon eager lip 
And we are silent, trusting not to words 
The very innermost, then come the tones 
Of masters who have voiced in other years 
All we would say of longing and of trust; 
Softly the notes lead heart to heart, and blend 
Into one chord of effort triumphing 
The weakness of our spirits. When the lights 
Come glimmering in, eyes turn to questioning eyes 
And read the secret music has betrayed. 

1888 



16 



OLD AGE 

NO W is he come unto that countryside 
Past the last outpost. Here Life loosely reigns, 

Asking no tribute from the deadened plains 
Where stealthy mists creep from the rising tide. 
If there be fellow-travelers in this vast, 

Scarcely he knoweth. Voices that he hears 

Sound far away and strange unto his ears, 
Commingled with the echoes from the past. 
He hath outstripped the mirage of his prime 

Long since; and journeying on to dip his hand 
Into Truth's fountain, he hath come to know 

Truth for the chiefest mirage. On the sand 
Lappeth the river at the bounds of Time. 

His dull ear listens; --must it, then, be so? 

1890 



17 



PRAYERS FOR THE LIVING 

OSOUL of all souls whitest, what needst thou 
Of solemn masses who with angel choirs 
Dost chant enraptured thy most pure desires, 
And to the heavenly will, as erst on earth, dost bow ? 
What can I ask for thee, in halting prayers 
Heavy with grief, that could increase thy bliss ? 
What in thy perfectness can be amiss 
Who grewest to angelhood all unawares? 
Rather pray thou for me. And when ye stand, 
Making petition, folding wing on wing, 

Drooping your eyes before the glory-light, 
Think if thou mayst on him who, wandering 
Along the lower way, hath lost thy hand, 

Yet seeketh for thy footprints day and night. 

1890 



18 



THK TWO NATURES 

WHERE hast tliou been, O Soul, in thy sojourning 
Out of the body? on what high emprise, 
What noble quest, that thus to me returning 

I labor at my anchor, fain to rise? 
What king hath entertained thee, condescending 

To share his plenty with thy low estate? 
Why turn away from so divine befriending, 
To keep thy faith with me inviolate? 

Nay, chide me not, and strive not with me longer; 

Breathe thou alone the air thou lovest best. 
Some day, perhaps, thy loyal wings grown stronger, 

Thou mayst with hope disturb me where I rest. 
Now through thy ether shouldst thou lead me, breathless, 

To that high Presence where thy name is known, 
Into that circle heaven-born and deathless, 

How should I shame thee, stained and earthy grown ! 

Sad is thy mien, ay, even unto weeping. - 
Car'st thou so much? Are we so firmly one? 

Lift me again from out this deadly sleeping; 
Help me to raise mine eyes unto the sun. 



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Yea, where thou soarest I will follow after 
Far, far below, yet always in thy wake; 

Should I sink back, remember it hereafter, 
Thus have I striven, and striven for thy sake. 



1892 



20 



NATURE 

THOU, Ki-jiH-^is. whom the old Greeks did n;ime 
Stenifst !' all who clainu-d their vow and 
prayer, 

Pleased by no gifts, choosing thine altars bare 
Till he who gave should cleanse himself from blame, 
Thou ceased pursuit when restitution came, 

And turned thine eyes' grave searching otherwhere, 

While the light-bosomed wretch, free of thy care, 
Felt his heart leap with joy no past could tame. 
But we of our day own a bitterer fate, 

(\\lio would not justice, even if justice slay?) - 
For scarce man knoweth if he violate 

Our goddess' bidding till her reckoning-day; 
Then slowly he perceiveth his estate: 

Not he alone, but heirs unborn must pay. 

1891 



21 



DISILLUSION 

MORNING 

COME, Sweet, the world is wide; so, hand in hand, 
Let us fare forth to win our victories. 
Thou shalt be queen of beauty and of love, 
As in the old bright days of tournament; 
And I will wear thy colors in my heart, 
And on my brow the seal invisible 
Of thy true kiss: so shall before me fall 
All shapes of evil that infest the light. 
And when the jousts are ended, and the games, 
Thou shalt sit proudly upright in thy place, 
And while the world is wondering, all agaze, 
Lo, at thy feet my garlands shall be laid. 
For half my strength is thine, being come from thee 
And that sweet faith that armors me anew. 



22 



EVENING 

The days are shortening. Wilt forgive me, heart, 

For the long turmoil I have led thee through 

And to no end? I meant it otherwise; 

But one right arm is weak against the world. 

Here on thy shoulder let me rest my head, 

My weary head that aches from life's long din; 

And in thy comforting let me forget 

The disappointment, and the hidden foe, 

And all that made my days a vulgar strife, 

Unheralded, untrumpeted, uncrowned. 

My strength is weak beside thy steadfastness, 

And there takes refuge. If thou cherish it, 

Then to have failed and yet to win thy smile, 

Ah, love, is victory beyond desert. 

Scribner's Magazine 
August, 1887 



23, 



INHERITANCE 

O LITTLE child, through what long leagues of pain 
Tendeth thy life, if our God will it so ! 

Through what deprivement of the heat and glow 
That wait on action, and are counted gain ! 
How by thy couch the dull hours stretch their length 

That slip like molten silver through the hands 

Able to answer to the world's demands, 
Giving it all their skilfulness and strength ! 
God solve this problem for us ! When a soul, 

A little soul, of Thine own essence pure, 

Waiteth, expectant, for the earthly frame 

In which it would do service, true and sure, 
Why should a past obscure, beyond control. 

Clothe it with suffering? Is Thy law to blame? 

1890 



24 



THE BIRTHDAY IN HEAVEN 

WHAT will they bring thee, Sweet, to-morrow's 
dawn 

Our three-year-old, whose birthday is in heaven? 
For the earth-happiness thou hast foregone 

What will they do to make the balance even ? 
Do the grave angels love as mothers love? 

And is there one, just one from all the rest, 
Whose arms were first to cradle thee above, 
To whom thou turnest, whom thou lovest best? 

Yea, surely mother-hearts in heaven must beat, 

Else 't were not heaven, and God were God no more; - 
Could He be happy in His holy seat 

If any child stood, homesick, near the door? 
Tell that dear angel that doth keep our child 

To hold thee close to-morrow, and to press 
Upon thy brow grown radiantly mild 

All that we would of lingering caress. 

Tell her on earth we brought thee toys and flowers, 
And told thee stories when thy birthday came; 



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Say to her that when thou wast wholly ours 
With love unspeakable we called thy name; 

And when the shadows fell, rememberest thou? 
How thou didst nestle down in sheltered sleep ! 

Who sings to thee? Whose arms enfold thee now? 
To whom has God my jewel given to keep? 

Be not unhappy, Sweet. Enjoy her care; 

Go to her first of all the heavenly host; 
But, oh, do not forget me, is my prayer ! 

I am thy mother; love me still the most. 

1890 



26 



THE DEATH OF CESAR 

CICERO'S SOLILOQUY 

AY, look, and look again, at him who bore 
The world and flinched not, but an hour ago. 
In his colossal shadow yours was lost: 
"Down with him, down, that we may see ourselves !" 
He lies there; are ye greater than before? 
Beyond the door the world he carried waits 
To fall upon your staggering feebleness 
And loosen into chaos once again. 
Flee ye, indeed ! From that still figure prone 
Stretches a shadow that may well affray. 
Living, it alternated with the sun; 
Dead, it creeps onward, licking up the light. 
So have ye chilled the pulses of the world 
Into stagnation. Flee, and be content ! 

1895 



27 



THE CHOSEN PEOPLE 

THY chosen people, Lord! Aye, and for what? 
Chosen to bear the world's contempt and scorn; 
Chosen to cringe and fawn, contrive and plot, 
Only to win the right to live, being born; 
Chosen to bow the neck and bend the knee, 
To hold the tongue when other tongues revile, 
To bear the burdens, bond-slaves e'en when free; 
Give cheerfully, be spit upon and smile; 
Chosen for death, for torture and the screws, 
While the slow centuries move, they say, toward light! 
Lord, from the horrors of this endless night 
Let us go free ! another people choose ! 

New York Times 
November 24, 1905 



28 



THE CONQUEST OF THE AIR 

ANOTHER world \ve have, we that have made 
Desert and pit and battlefield of earth, 
Ravished her treasures, brought from riches dearth, 
Stilled her fountains, plucked away her shade; 

We that have poisoned with the cities' reek 
All her fair rivers, stol'n the cataract's flow, 
Trampled in greed her helpless ones and low. 
And in bloodthirstiness have slain her weak. 

Now, in our grasp almost, Thy wind and cloud, 
Thy winged fugitives, Thy snow and rain, 
Sunbeam and starbcam, yea, Thy lightnings proud, 
We have stretched out our hand for, not in vain. 
Seeing what desolation we have made 
Of Thy first gift --Lord, art Thou not afraid? 

New York Times 
September 16, 1908 



29 



LOST CHILDREN 

OTHOU, whose mother sought in vain 
A shelter once, at Christmastide, 
And so with kindly beasts was fain 

To beg the rest elsewhere denied. 
Do Thou, from terrors safe long since, 
Remember in Thy feet the prints, 

And in Thy hands the nail, 
Look where the little children stray, 
Roofless and cold, this Christmas Day, 

Unknowing why they ail. 

Thou hadst Thy mother on her breast 

In safety warm and soft didst lie, 
Nourished wast Thou, and to Thy rest 

Wast soothed then by her lullaby. 
See Thou how these are scattered, 
Parents and friends, to seeming, fled, 

The world a stranger place; 
So sad, how can their angels brook 
Upon these little ones to look 

And then behold His face? 



30 



Again, as once in Palestine, 

Let men bring gifts from near and far - 
Again, above the hovel mean, 

Sec clear, as they, the guiding star. 
May hearts, grown over-wise and cold, 
Bring myrrh and frankincense and gold 

To deck the humble stall; 
And make Thou us, for one child's sake. 
Wherever lost young hearts do ache, 

Fathers and mothers all ! 

New York Times 
December 20, 1914 



31 



REQUIEM 

WHAT is this drawing, drawing, soft and strong 
As it would clasp me to a sheltering breast? 
What is this rhythmic pulsing, faint and long, 

As it would chant me to a place of rest? 
What is this gentle loosening of my hold 

On all the treasures gathered through the years? 
What is this radiance of pearl and gold 

Shining and glowing through a mist of fears? 
What is this turning of my eyelids, slow, 

As they would rest upon some light afar ? 
What is this greeting, greeting sweet and low, 

Wherein at last no sounds of parting are ? 
Whose is the welcoming face that bids me come? 

Thou? Is it Thou, O Lord? Then this is Home! 

August, 1909 



CENTRAL CIRCULATION 

CHILDREN'S ROOM 



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